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Kenya presidential candidates facing ICC trial announce joint election campaign

Two Kenyans facing charges in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] announced Sunday that they will be running together in the country's upcoming presidential race. Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former cabinet minister William Ruto [case materials] are two of four Kenyans set to stand trial in the ICC in April for crimes against humanity arising out of the 2007 post-election violence [JURIST news archive] in which more than 1,000 people died. The two candidates announced [Reuters report] that they will be running together in the next presidential election, scheduled to take place in March. Despite assurances otherwise, many are concerned the pair will not agree to stand trial should they win the election a month before the hearing. Additionally, some have challenged the pair's campaign by claiming the ICC charges render them unsuitable candidates. ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] visited Kenya [JURIST report] in October in preparation for the trial of the four Kenyans, at which point she emphasized that the trial will proceed, and Kenyatta and Ruto will not be given immunity if they win the election.

Concern surrounding the trial has been growing as the trial and election draw closer. In October the ICC called for complete cooperation [JURIST report] from the Kenyan government in the investigation and trial process. In June the ICC expressed its desire to start the two Kenyan trials simultaneously [JURIST report] to avoid any appearance of bias in the presidential election. In May the appeals chamber of the ICC rejected [JURIST report] the jurisdiction challenges in the two cases presented by the defense, clearing the way for trial. The defense lawyers had argued that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the cases. The appeal stemmed from the pre-trial chamber's decision to confirm the charges [JURIST report] against the four men in January. The ICC claimed jurisdiction over the case despite Kenya's calls for dismissal [JURIST report].

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